When buying a home, one of the first questions you'll find asking yourself: how big is the home?

With good reason... the size dictates the amount you should pay for the place (amongst other factors). Because we tend to price condos on a $ per sq/ft basis, the information on total square footage is much more prevalent in the condo market. Whereas when looking at detached homes, more times then not, the square footage is not indicated on MLS.

I am always amazed when I ask a homeowner the size of their home and they cannot give me an accurate figure. Ask them how much is a coffee at Tim's and you'll get the answer to the penny.

Anyways, I don't want to focus on the listings without the square footage indicated but rather those that do have it.

Take a look at the listing below...

This is your typical condo listing... an approximate square footage with the 'source' being the owner. See anything wrong with this???

I do!

Let's do the math on this...

Using the listing price of $250,000 assuming the condo size is 600 sq ft - price per sq ft is $417

What if the condo size is 699 sq ft? Well your condo is now priced at $358 a sq ft

Now do you notice the problem?

Here's another issue... the 'source' is the owner. We may think it's a perfect world but people tend to lie a wee bit from time to time when it comes to this stuff...

Case in point: I've caught someone changing the square footage on a builder's plan photocpying it and then providing that to prospective buyers. Try turning a '3' into an '8' - pretty easy eh? You mean the '6' was actually a '5' before?

Of course, this is an extreme case but lies/mistakes/exaggerations do happen and measurements can be innacurate.

Now from time to time you will get a condo with the exact square footage (see below)... the source can once again be either the owner, the realtor having done some floor plans, the builder's plans, or MPAC (municipal property assessment corp).

In this listing the source is the builder and the exact square footage is included. How wonderful. Wait... does that include the balcony? If talking about a detached home, does it include the basement? You need to know all this stuff! Well your realtor does at least, how else can you properly offer on a home without knowing what your buying!

Now alot of listings have something written along these lines in the 'remarks for other brokerages' section: "buyer and buyer's agent to verify all measurements" Why? It basically puts the onus on the buyer should any discrepancies arise.

How to avoid all this if you are buying a home?

The easiest way to make sure you are getting exactly what you paid for is to MEASURE! Whether the exact measurement is given or if only an approximation, take the 15-30 minutes to properly measure every room and get the exact square footage.